Friday 29 March 2013

Back in Business

Interview with Lisa Mason

(Photo credit: BBC)

Lisa Mason has been setting records throughout her gymnastics career, with many British 'firsts'. She was the first British gymnast to qualify to European and World Championship finals and the first to take a Gold medal on the World Cup circuit. But this year Lisa has done something many people believed to be impossible - she has made a comeback after 13 years of retirement and is competing once again. Here, she looks back on her GB career 13 years ago as well as looking at the present and her future in gymnastics.

What prompted your decision to retire after the Sydney Olympics?
My generation were the first team to ever send a full team to the Olympic Games for GB so the pressure we had leading up to the Olympics was so intense that when it was all over I just wanted to be a normal teenager.
When the opportunity of me coming back arose in 2004 I fell pregnant so was unable to fulfil the plan of coming back into gymnastics.

What were your highlights of competing for Team GB before your retirement?
Wow, there are sooo many . . . I would say the main ones are:

  • Winning the British title 3x in a row, no one had ever done that.
  • Being part of the team that qualified the 1st full GB team to compete at the Olympic Games.
  • Winning Gold and Silver for England at Commonwealth games.
  • Breaking the barrier for British gymnasts to be accepted and taken seriously on the International circuit, being the 1st GB gymnast to ever final and win medals in the Grand Prix / World Cup circuit.

What has life held for you since you retired from gymnastics?
Well first and foremost I am a mum to a beautiful little girl named Yalarna she is about to turn 8 on 15th May, she is a little gymnast herself but I don’t push for her to do it seriously as I want her to find her own path.
I have also trained up as a Senior Women’s artistic coach and have my own Choreography business where I travel to different clubs up and down the country to do Beam and Floor workshops / sessions and I also choreograph floor routines, which is a real passion of mine.

What changes have you seen in British Gymnastics since you last competed?
It’s more professional, technically more advanced and the support that the gymnasts receive now is great . . . from physiotherapy, nutritionists, to skill break down.
And we are “as a country” a force to be reckoned with. Louis and Beth have both paved the way for this next generation and set the standard in both women’s and men’s gymnastics.

How does it feel to be back in competition?
It feels awesome!! Nerve racking lol but good . . . gymnastics has always been part of my life and always will be, I love to perform and I am hoping to introduce floor back into my training schedule so fingers crossed it all goes well and I can get out and strut myself on the floor again lol.

Has the sport changed much since you last competed?
Not really . . . I think it lost a lot of its artistry in previous codes but with this new one it’s taking things back slightly to the old school which I love, with the deductions and awards for artistry etc.
Bars has come along the most I think the difficulty of some of these girls' routines are really impressive.

How did it feel to be crowned English vault Champion in your first competition?
Amazing!! Didn’t expect it at all . . .

What was your experience like at the British Championships and competing on podium again?
A lot more nerve racking than I remember lol . . . I think a lot of people expected me to just come back and be on top after 13 years lol and they forget I have to re-learn everything including how to cope with competition nerves.
Vault for instance, I’ve only been working Vault since Christmas so 3 months isn’t long at all so I am proud that I made finals at the British.
Also I’m used to working on the old style Vault so changing my technique for this new Vault has been quite challenging.

What are your next steps in your gymnastics career and what aims do you have?
To get back into the gym and work new skills for my routines!
I’m starting to introduce floor when I get back in the gym . . . my coach has given me a few days off lol.
I’m due to compete at the Pro Gymnastics Challenge in the United States this May which I am SOOO excited about!!
Then the British Teams also in May which hoping all goes well I’m going to put out floor, after then, mmmm not too sure . . . I take each day as it comes and hope for good health and happiness for my daughter and myself.

What plans do you have for the future outside of competitive gymnastics?
It’s always been my ambition to move out to the USA or Canada and coach out there, maybe some t.v work . . . anything is possible, only God knows what’s in store for me.
I count my blessings everyday and I am so grateful for a second chance at this and I just want to try my best and be successful at whatever I do for my daughter and my future.

Lisa's winning vaults at the 2013 English Championships

Monday 25 March 2013

British Championships 2013

Apparatus Finals

Sunday saw the last day of competition of the 2013 British Championships. The Apparatus Finals were hotly contested and the 2013 Champions were crowned on all four apparatus for the Seniors, Juniors and Espoirs.


For the Espoirs, Maisie Methuen took the Gold medal (13.450) with two very clean handspring vaults, the first tucked and the second one piked. Phoebe Turner, who took Silver (13.075) performed a FTY for her first vault and a straight Yurchenko for her second. Lucy Stanhope who took the Bronze medal (12.950) preferred the handspring half turn approach with a pike back somersault for her first vault and a tuck back for her second.

In the Junior Vault Final it was Ellie Downie who successfully took the title (13.775). She vaulted brilliantly, with a FTY for her first vault and a round off half turn tuck front for her second vault. Taking the Silver medal was Amy Tinkler (13,750) with a FTY and a straight Yurchenko. Tyesha Mattis took the Bronze medal (13.300) with a straight Yurchenko and a FTY. I was however, quite disappointed that we were not treated to her fantastic DTY for the finals.

In the Senior competition, Niamh Rippin successfully defended her vault title from last year's British Championships (13.800) with a one and a half twisting Yuirchenko for her first vault and a round off half on pike front second vault. Kelly Simm took the Silver medal (13.625) with two very cleanly performed vaults, a FTY and a handspring tucked front. Amy Regan and Eleanor Thompson tied for third place (13.525). Amy also performed a FTY and a hadspring tucked front while Eleanor showed us a straight Tsukahara and a handspring tucked front.

The winning routines: 
Maisie Methuen 
Ellie Downie
Niamh Rippin


All three of the bars finals were great to watch and there were some spectacular routines throughout the morning.

In the Espoir competition Georgia-Mae Fenton took the Gold medal (13.200) with a beautiful routine. Her work was very clean and included a nicely flighted tkatchev and an almost nailed double tuck dismount. Teal Grindle took the Silver (12.850) with another very clean routine which included a gienger and a fantastic full twisting double tuck dismount. Catherine Lyons took the Bronze medal (11.800) despite a fall in her routine. She swings very gracefully on the bars and also had the difficulty, with a well flighted gienger and a double Arabian dismount.

Amy Tinkler took the Gold in the Junior competition (12.900) with a solid routine which included a beautifully high tkatchev and an almost nailed full twisting double tuck dismount. Ellie Downie and Chantelle Halford tied for second place (12.450). Ellie showed that she is following in big sister Becky's footsteps when it comes to great bars work, with a sky high tkatchev and a great double straight dismount. Chantelle impressed with two fantastic release moves, a tkatchev and a jaeger, and a beautifully performed double straight dismount.

For the seniors, the battle was on to see who could take the bars crown in the absence of Beth Tweddle. The girls showed us that British bars is set to be a force to be reckoned with still, with two amazingly difficult routines from Becky Downie and Ruby Harrold. On the day it was Becky Downie who took the title (14.050) with a fantastic routine, despite a slight error in the middle. Her combinations and flight moves are stunning and she has the ability to make it look easy. Gabby Jupp managed to sneak in and take the Silver (13.700) with a very cleanly performed routine. Her jaeger was lovely and her full twisting double straight dismount was practically perfect. Ruby Harrold managed to take the Bronze medal (13.250) despite a fall, which shows the difficulty of her routine. She has a stunning bars routine which elicited many gasps from the crowd, especially her transitions from high to low bar.

The winning routines:
Georgia-Mae Fenton 
Amy Tinkler 
Becky Downie 


Beam is always a testing piece of apparatus and that was no exception in these finals, but there were many exceptional performances across all three beam finals.

In the Espoirs, Teal Grindle took the title (13.900) with a clean and confident routine. She looked calm and self assured throughout, moving fluidly and showing some great acrobatic elements, including a fantastic side somersault. In Silver was Maisie Methuen (13.350) with a clean and fluid routine with some nice acrobatic skills and a great double spin. Louise McColgan took the Bronze (13.250) with a confident performance which included some great leaps and jumps as well as the acrobatic skills.

Tyesha Mattis took the Gold medal in the Junior competition (13.800) with a strong and confident performance. Her acrobatic skills included a side somersault and a back flick with two layouts. Ellie Downie earned herself another medal by placing second on beam (13.550). She looked confident throughout with some solid acrobatic moves, including a great front somi. Amy Tinkler took the Bronze medal (13.400), gaining confidence after a few nerves at the start. She has some very difficult work including a full twisting back tuck and a great double tuck dismount.

For the Seniors it was Gabby Jupp who took the Gold (14.750). This massive score was the result of a fantastic routine where Gabby showed her poise and confidence throughout. Highlights included a back flick to two layouts, a front somi and a double spin. Hannah Whelan took the Silver medal (14.350), showing her usual poise and control on this apparatus. She looked calm and self assured throughout and showed off some difficult skills including an aerial cartwheel to back layout and a great two and a half twisting dismount. In third place was Georgina Hockenhull (13.350) with a very elegant routine. She had some lovely leaps and jumps alongside her acrobatic elements, which included a great side somi.

The winning routines:
Teal Grindle 
Tyesha Mattis 
Gabby Jupp 


I always find floor finals really enjoyable to watch and these were certainly no exception. There was a great deal of artistry and musicality alongside some very impressive tumbling.

In the Espoirs there was a tie for first place with Catherine Lyons and Teal Grindle sharing the Gold (13.900). Catherine gave a graceful and elegant performance, as always, moving beautifully with the music which really suited her style. She also had great tumbling to match her gorgeous dance work and choreography. Teal's style was very different but no less enjoyable. She had lively music and good choreography as well as some impressive tumbles. Louise McColgan picked up the Bronze medal on floor (13.700) with a lovely routine which I had been really looking forward to watching. She is a tiny gymnast, yet oozes confidence and personality on the floor. She gave a great performance, with some great tumbling too, and captured many gymnastics fans' hearts with this lovely routine.

In the Junior competition it was Amy Tinkler who took the Gold medal (14.200). She performed a fantastic routine, fast paced and lively and she looked like she was enjoying it throughout. She also had some incredible tumbling, with a great double straight and a full twisting double pike as her first two passes. Tyesha Mattis took the Silver medal (13.900) with dramatic music and an expressive routine. She moved well and performed confidently and had some very strong tumbling. In third was Jade Armstrong (13.350). She gave a clean and elegant performance with good choreography and good tumbling.

For the Seniors, it was another title for Gabby Jupp (14.350). She combined clean and sharp dance moves with some impressive tumbling, including a double Arabian as her opening pass. Raer Theaker took the Silver medal (14.200) with some very clean tumbling. I really like Raer's floor routine, she moves with grace and elegance and looks very stylish on the floor. Niamh Rippin finished in third place (14.000) with her usual display of strong tumbling and dynamic floor work.

The winning routines:
Catherine Lyons
Teal Grindle
Amy Tinkler
Gabby Jupp

Saturday 23 March 2013

British Championships 2013

Senior All Around Competition

What an exciting day of competition! There were thrills and spills as the seniors battled for the title of British Champion 2013. In the end it came down to who could control their nerves and stay calm when it mattered.

Gabby Jupp - 2013 British Champion
Having won the Junior title last year at the British Championships as well as coming from a fantastic competition at the American Cup recently, Gabby was definitely one of the favourites for this competition. She showed her usual calm approach under pressure and performed four clean and well presented routines to take the title with a solid All Around score of 56.150. She was delightful to watch throughout and her beam routine was (as expected) superb. She has also qualified to three apparatus finals tomorrow (bars, beam and floor) where she will be hoping to add more medals to today's Gold.

Charlie Fellows - Silver
Charlie had a fantastic competition today, showing off her skill and style on each piece of apparatus. She is a lovely gymnast to watch and executed her routines beautifully, especially on floor where she set the highest score of the day with a 14.200. She kept her calm throughout and really deserved her second place finish. She qualified to the bars, beam and floor finals and I cannot wait to see her in action again tomorrow.

Niamh Rippin - Bronze
I was really impressed with Niamh today, she looked strong and confident right up until the last minute when she had an unfortunate fall on her beam dismount (her last apparatus). Her powerful style was really shown off today and it was great to see her compete so well - the Bronze medal was a just reward. She has seemed to steadily improve over the last few competitions we have seen her in and today was certainly no exception. She qualified to the vault, bars and floor finals where she will be hoping to defend her titles from last year on vault and floor.

Other notable gymnasts include Ruby Harrold, who finished fourth in the All Around and impressed with a stunning bars routine. It is an incredible routine and one that I cannot wait to see again tomorrow. Georgina Hockenhull also impressed me with a good 5th place finish and three apparatus finals (bars, beam and floor). Hannah Whelan and Angel Romaeo both had unfortunate outings with multiple falls, leaving them much further down the field than expected. Hannah was still very impressive in the main though and managed to finish a credible 8th place despite her two falls on bars and one on floor. Becky Downie was yet again competing only bars and yet again set the highest score with her fantastic new routine. She will be one to watch in the bars final tomorrow. Lisa Mason impressed with her fabulous vaulting, following her win on vault at the English Championships with a place in tomorrow's vault final which was helped by an absolutely nailed handspring front pike as her second vault.

It really has been an exciting and pretty unpredictable competition. Congratulations to all the gymnasts who competed today and good luck to all those competing in the apparatus finals. The finals can be seen live via BGTV from 10.30am (24th March). Details can be found on

Thursday 21 March 2013

Looking Forward

Junior British Championships

 As well as the coveted Senior British Champion title being up for grabs this weekend, the title of Junior British Champion is also going to be hotly contested, as are the places in the Junior apparatus finals. The Junior women start their bid for success on Friday (22nd March) in the All Around competition, which also serves as the qualifier for Sunday's apparatus finals. Here are a few names to look out for over the weekend.

Ellie Downie
Becky Downie's younger sister Ellie turned Junior this year after an already very successful Level 2 and Espoir gymnastics career. Only a few weeks ago, Ellie took the title of Junior English Champion as well as finishing in the top three on all four pieces of apparatus (2nd vault, 3rd bars, 2nd beam, 1st floor). She has a lovely rhythm as she works on all apparatus and her moves are clean and confident. I have no doubt that she will do well this weekend and I am looking forward to seeing her in multiple apparatus finals.

Tyesha Mattis
Another first year Junior, Tyesha burst onto the scene earlier this year at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival. She impressed everyone with her dynamic and powerful gymnastics, taking the Gold All Around medal in the process. She has difficult work on all apparatus including a very impressive DTY vault. Tyesha is also particularly noteworthy on bars, with some big release moves, and floor, with powerful tumbling. She is bound to make an impact this weekend.

Amy Tinkler
Also a first year Junior, Amy is another gymnast who represented GB at the AYOF earlier this year. She impressed in Australia by taking the Gold medal on floor and Silver on vault. She works well on all apparatus and moves with confidence throughout. She will definitely be one to watch this weekend as she challenges for the medals.

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Raising an Olympian

Interview with Jane Pinches

(Jane and Oliver waiting for the Olympic action to begin)

Jane Pinches is the mother of GB Olympian Jenni Pinches. Jenni started gymnastics at the age of six and last year achieved her dream of competing at the Olympic Games. Here,  Jane shares her thoughts and experiences of living alongside gymnastics and how she supported her daughter as she worked towards becoming one of the few athletes chosen to represent their country at London 2012. 

How does it feel to be the mother of an Olympian? Did you ever imagine that you would be able to watch your daughter compete in the Olympic Games?
It is without a doubt a most amazing and proud feeling. As mums we love our children and feel pride in their achievements whatever they may be, but to think that your child was selected to compete for their country, on a global stage, is really hard to process at times. Because they're still your baby, the child you fed and helped to walk, and will always be that in your heart. I simultaneously didn’t think it was something that happened to normal people like me, whilst at the same time hoping it would, and working to achieve that goal. The biggest deal was we decided to re locate to the North West, where we had family, because we needed the support as Jenni's training became more intensive, and benefited from their help in many ways. But unlike when most people move, we didn’t pick a location we wanted to live in and look for schools etc we chose a gym then built everything around that. It turned life on its head but it was just another way of looking at things. The main difference I believe is that we didn't see Jem's gym as the main or only focus of our lives. We had a life outside of the gym that was separate, and helped to ground everyone. Whilst gymnastics permeated every part of our daily life, it did not consume it. However, it became part of Jenni and part of us so I wouldn’t describe it as being a chore because it was just life for our family!

Did you get a chance to go to the Games or were you following the action on TV?
I was very fortunate to be given a ticket by Proctor and Gamble for the qualification and team final rounds. I watched the rest of the action at home with the nation!

When did you first realise that Jenni had something special?
Jennifer was a very early walker, could vault out of her cot from about the age of 8 months and was competent enough to climb trees and park equipment on her first birthday. I always thought she would be good at gymnastics but there was no club where we lived in Kent. When we moved to Bristol she was home schooled for a few weeks as we had to appeal for a school place and she drove me mad leaping about the house!! A booklet popped through the door with information about the local area and I read that there was a gymnastics club nearby. I knew Jem had said she'd like to try so we both leapt at the chance. After just one session, when they asked me how long she had done gymnastics for, I knew she was something special.

How have you had to adapt family life because of gymnastics?
We fitted around gymnastics like you fit around anything that you choose to do in life, you incorporate it into your routine. It meant we couldn’t go away for weekends, couldn’t just take holidays when we felt like it, and eventually that became a 1 week holiday a year.
Jennifer's brothers spent a great deal of time hanging around gyms, travelling to and fro and going to competitions. Harry and Oliver just grew up with it, they knew no different. They both became adept at sleeping in the car, and endured long journeys and repetitive trips out and about. Oliver was just days old when he first made the 3 hour round trip to Liverpool! They might have to stay up later than their peers because I was collecting Jem from evening training for example, and in fact the older boys both did trampolining because it could be done at the gym where their sister trained. (They have both been very successful in this, and still train and compete.)

How have you managed to keep life ‘normal’ for Jenni and the rest of the family?
Our life is, and was, "normal" because everyone's life is normal to them. The children never felt like they were odd, just different; but then every family is different. We knew enough people within gymnastics so that everyone had someone who could relate to what was going on, but life was never a big deal, and all the children have had the same level of support for their activities as Jennifer had for hers.

What has been the hardest part of living alongside gymnastics?
The hours, the intensity and the travelling affected everyone and was tough. But for me, I think the relentless pressure of competitions and selection, always keeping up and getting better, never being able to take a breather because there was the next goal, the next level, was the hardest - for Jennifer, and so for us. Added to this was the constant worry of injury. Jenni had her fair share of them, and this also meant activities like skating, skiing, even cycling had to be missed. Always being fit and coping with fatigue was tough too.

Were you nervous when you watched Jenni compete?
I was always nervous because I wanted her to show what she could do, and there's always the potential for a fall or stumble. In this respect, it became beam that I was most nervous to watch. I knew Jem got nervous too, and would speed up! I knew that if she stayed on, you would see her skill and beauty but falling off is so easy!
That apart, I loved watching her compete and my nerves never got the better of me or spoiled that enjoyment. I always loved to watch her on floor where she performed her routines with elegance and fun!

What is the most important thing you think you have taught Jenni?
I'd like to think that she learned that to strive for a goal is important, however difficult that may seem to be; to always try your very best, be the best that you can be; and never, never give up. That you play to win, but winning isn't everything.

Is there anything that you think that Jenni has taught you?
She has shown me amazing strength of character, that you can face situations that you think are daunting with confidence and clarity. And that you can achieve your dreams!

Have you any advice for other parents whose children are involved in gymnastics?
Think carefully before you decide to commit. The road is long and hard. Most will fall by the wayside. Support, support and support, and try to grow a champion! But also know when to stop and make sure it is your child's dream and not just yours.

(Jenni performing on floor at the 2012 British Championships)

Saturday 16 March 2013

Looking Forward

Espoir Apparatus Finals

Today saw the All Around competition of the British Espoir Championships 2013. It was a hotly contested title, with Catherine Lyons trying to regain the crown. Also battling for the Gold were Georgia-Mae Fenton, who won the Espoir English Championships recently, Teal Grindle, who was so impressive at the Australian Youth Olympics earlier this year, and Louise McColgan, a first year Espoir who won the Level 2 National Title last year. In the end it was Georgia-Mae Fenton who took the title followed by Catherine Lyons in 2nd, Teal Grindle in 3rd and Louise McColgan just missing out on the medals in 4th.

Today's competition not only crowned the All Around Champion, but also served as the qualifiers for the apparatus finals which will be held alongside the Junior and Senior British Championships in Liverpool next weekend. With so much talent in this category here are the gymnasts that I am looking forward to seeing in the finals.

Catherine Lyons
Her grace and elegance in all of her performances have meant that this young gymnast has been a familiar name to many gymnastics fans for some time now. She truly is an artistic gymnast and is a delight to watch. Catherine has qualified to three finals next weekend, bars (3rd), beam (5th) and floor (1st). Her floor work is simply stunning as she is able to show off her grace and beauty of movement. Her beam work is also very fluid and she brings a great deal of elegance to this apparatus. She is also one of the few gymnasts who (in my opinion) is able to make bars look elegant. She swings well and has a great fluency in all her moves. She is definitely one I can't wait to watch.

Georgia-Mae Fenton
Catherine's Europa team-mate has had a quieter career so far but is definitely starting to shine. This tiny looking gymnast has got some very impressive work and as well as taking the All Around title today she also qualified to three finals: bars (1st), beam (3rd) and floor (=3rd). Her routines are full of energy and she certainly looks to be a gymnast with a bright future ahead of her.

Louise McColgan
Having been impressed with Louise at Level 2 last year, I was eager to see how she would get on in the Espoir level. A fourth place all around finish and three event finals shows that she is going to remain one to watch as she moves up through the Espoir and Junior levels before turning senior in 2017. She qualified to three event finals: bars (=6th), beam (=1st) and floor (=3rd). She is a beautifully expressive gymnast who works very cleanly and is delightful to watch. I am particularly looking forward to her floor, where she works so well with the music, and her beam, hoping she can retain that 1st place finish on finals day.

Teal Grindle
Teal is a dynamic gymnast who has enjoyed a great deal of success recently. As well as finishing 3rd in today's All Around competition she also qualified to all four apparatus finals, finishing 2nd on vault, 2nd on bars, equal 1st on beam and 2nd on floor. Pretty impressive! She will be hoping to be in the medals quite a bit next weekend and I cannot wait to see her fabulous performances in each of the events.

Lucy Stanhope
Lucy is a first year Espoir gymnast from City of Liverpool. As with pretty much all of Liverpool's gymnasts, Lucy proved today that she is one to watch. Placing 8th in the All Around competition, she also qualified to all four finals finishing 6th on vault, equal 6th on bars, 4th on beam and equal 7th on floor. This young gymnast has some beautiful work and I am particularly looking forward to seeing her in the beam final where she has a routine full of personality and original work.

The Espoir Apparatus finals take place on Sunday 24th March alongside the senior and junior apparatus finals.

Friday 15 March 2013

Looking Forward

British Championships 2013

With only a week before the start of the 2013 British Championships the excitement is starting to grow, and there is a lot to be excited about this year. Hannah Whelan and Rebecca Tunney are our returning 2012 Olympians, we have a great bunch of new seniors to keep an eye out for and Lisa Mason is continuing her comeback after 12 years away from the sport. It's certainly going to be a great competition. With all that in mind here are the top 10 routines that I am most looking forward to seeing:

Hannah Whelan - floor
Having grown to love Hannah's last floor routine  and seen her competing it with so much success (European Bronze medallist on floor in 2012) I can't wait to see her new routine for 2013. She unveiled it at the English Championships recently, matching new choreography and music with new tumbles. It will be exciting to see how much she can build on the success of her previous floor routine.

Ruby Harrold - bars
Ruby is a brilliant bars worker and showed off a stunning new routine at the English Championships which had me gasping throughout. Unfortunately, some errors meant that Ruby was kept off the podium for this apparatus but I am sure she will be challenging for one of the top spots next weekend.

Gabby Jupp - beam
Gabby took the gymnastics world pretty much by storm with her fantastic performance at the American Cup earlier this month. Having watched Gabby last year (Junior British Champion, European Junior Bronze medallist) it was no surprise to me how well she did, but I was delighted that she kept her nerve in such a major event and showed the world exactly what she is capable of. All her routines are worthy of a mention, but her poise and style on beam definitely makes this apparatus one to watch.

Lisa Mason - vault
No other gymnast has attempted to come back to the sport, at the age of thirty, after a 12 year retirement. Yet Lisa has not only done this but done it with style. If anyone ever doubted that she could pull it off she proved them wrong a couple of weeks ago by becoming the 2013 English Vault Champion - quite a feat for her first competition in almost 13 years! Lisa has proved that she is a force to be reckoned with, competing on vault and beam for the time being and planning on adding the other apparatus back in soon. Her vaulting is something I am definitely looking forward to seeing.

Becky Downie - bars
Becky has had a turbulent few years, plagued by an ACL injury, but has recently shown herself to be back on form, taking the title of English Beam Champion 2013 with an amazing new bars routine that is absolutely stunning. For anyone who may have thought that Britain's winning ways on bars were over with Beth not competing, Becky is one of the many talented bars workers who is proving that that is definitely not the case. Next weekend's bars final should be a very exciting one!

Rebecca Tunney - vault
Rebecca had an amazing year in 2012 as a first year senior, taking the title of British Champion and competing at the Olympic Games. She seemed to go from strength to strength throughout the year and although I cannot wait to see Rebecca on all four apparatus, her DTY was looking so strong and clean by last summer I cannot wait to see how she has built on that fantastic vaulting.

Angel Romaeo - floor
Although she is a first year senior, Angel is a gymnast who is already a favourite with many gymnastics fans around the world and this is mainly due to her charismatic floor routines. She is a natural performer on the floor and her personality shines through. She is one gymnast who certainly should have nothing to worry about when it comes to the more stringent artistry rules in the new Code of Points! Although she is good on the other apparatus, floor is where she excels and I simply cannot wait to see her in action in the senior competition.

Niamh Rippin - vault
Niamh will be defending two titles at the British Championships this year, on floor and vault. A strong tumbler and an excellent vaulter, Niamh will be hoping to stave off other challenges for the titles. She has a strong DTY and I am really looking forward to seeing her powerful vaulting.

Charlie Fellows - floor
A first year senior at the City of Liverpool Gymnastics Club, Charlie will be hoping to follow in the very successful footsteps of her club teammates, four of whom competed at last year's Olympic Games. Floor is a very strong piece for Charlie, indeed she qualified to the floor final at the 2012 European Championships. She works cleanly on floor and has good musicality as well as good tumbling. With the pedigree of Liverpool gymnasts I think she will definitely be one to keep an eye on.

Raer Theaker - floor
Raer is yet another first year senior who is out to impress. Raer has enjoyed a great deal of success as a junior gymnast and will be hoping to continue that as she turns senior. Floor is a piece that suits Raer well. She moves expressively to the music and has some fantastic tumbling. It will be great to see her compete in senior competition.

The British Championships take place on 22nd-24th March. More details and information about the event can be found on the British Gymnastics website